Roisín O’Donnell: How to publish a debut (in 17 steps)

The author of Wild Quiet retraces her baby steps as a writer, from dictating stories to her mum before she could hold a pencil to learning to let go as her debut is published

Roisín O’Donnell: “Blissfully unaware that you are writing a collection, tell each story in the way it demands to be told. The result will be less a homogenous symphony and more a lovingly-compiled mixtape.” Photograph: Daithi Taylor

Roisín O’Donnell: “Blissfully unaware that you are writing a collection, tell each story in the way it demands to be told. The result will be less a homogenous symphony and more a lovingly-compiled mixtape.” Photograph: Daithi Taylor

Step 1.

Be born in Sheffield to parents from Derry city. Long before you can negotiate your freckled fist around a pencil, dictate your first stories to your mum, who will post them to your granddad in Derry. Your granddad is a great storyteller known for his humour and his tales from World War Two, but the man who inspired the story, Ebenezer’s Memories, will pass away when you are six. In some ways, you will be writing to him for the rest of your life.

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